We are fortunate to have Daryl Davis, author of Klan-Destine Relationships, to interview here on Amerika.org. Daryl is a brave fellow who as an African-American interested in issues of race, has contacted a number of members of the Ku Klux Klan and interviewed them, often before tipping them off to his ethnicity.
A good number of these Klansman later became friendly with Daryl, and from the stories they told and his own experiences, he formed the basis of what would become Klan-Destine Relationships. In addition, Daryl is a fully accomplished musician who has played with more famous names than this writer is able to recognize (see the pictures page for Daryl next to Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, among others).
Thanks to his generosity in answering our questions, we are able to offer you a short interview with Daryl Davis on the topics of nationalism, race, racism and of course, how these ongoing issues might be resolved.
Daryl, thank you for being with us today; you’re live on Amerika.org!
Thanks again for considering my perspectives to be included in your blog. I appreciate the opportunity and will do my best to provide you with answers that best define my opinions. I would preface these forthcoming answers with the fact that I am speaking solely for myself and I do not portray myself to represent those who may agree with me. My answers to your questions are based upon my own academic knowledge, empirical experiences and personal conjecture derived from said knowledge and experiences.
For your book, “Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan,” you confronted a number of Klansmen under friendly circumstances, without telling them in advance that you are African-American. How did introducing them to the person first, and then the ethnic background, change how they reacted to you?
As a Black child, I had been the target of occasional racist incidents by some White perpetrators. These incidents have always remained fresh in my mind, even today at my present age of 53. But it was a couple of personal encounters in 1974 and 1982 that I had with Matt Koehl, who took over the leadership of the American Nazi Party when George Lincoln Rockwell was murdered, that played a key role in my quest of wanting to learn more about racism, supremacy (White and Black), and separatism.
From the age of 15, I began spending a lot of time in libraries and bookstores, purchasing every book and publication I could find. I sought out conversations with every person who would give me the time of day, regardless if they were racist or not, but who had opinions, knowledge and experience in these areas. Over time, I educated myself in this subject matter. I donâ€™t wish to be at the risk of stereotyping, but I must say, it got to the point of where I could accurately predict the thought process of many of practitioners these ideologies.
That being said, it was not my intent to deceive or trick anyone by not foretelling them of my pigmentation. Rather, it was my goal to secure a candid, spontaneous answers to my interview questions. I acquired and supplied my White secretary with the phone numbers and had her make the initial calls to the prospective interviewees. My presumptions, many of which were later confirmed to be accurate, were that some of these people with whom I wanted an interview, would not have spoken with me, had they had the foreknowledge that I was Black. I did not want to take the chance that they might be able to tell the color of my skin by certain inflections in my voice over the phone and therefore refuse my request for an interview. However, I knew they would have no doubt by her voice, that this woman calling on my behalf, was absolutely White. I knew that most of these people would not automatically assume that a White woman would be working for a Black man writing a book on the Ku Klux Klan. In their minds, there would be a presumption that her boss was White.
It was also my assumption that they might have different answers for a White interviewer than they would have for a Black interviewer asking the same questions, if they had time to prepare their answers knowing the interviewer was Black. So, I would let them decide once they saw me, if they wanted to follow through with the interview. I instructed her not to reveal my color unless asked. Most did not ask and agreed to meet me for an interview. Some invited me over to their homes, not knowing I was Black. Others met with me at predetermined locations, such as hotels, restaurants, parking lots. All were completely shocked, but most complied with my interview while a few refused at this point. One of the Klansmen who initially refused, later approached me and requested that I interview him.
I think their initial reactions to me being Black were predictable, but thatâ€™s where predictability ended and individualism entered. While many of the people I interviewed shared the same common beliefs of White superiority and Black inferiority, no one can say that each Klanmember is cut from a standard cookie cutter. They all come from various walks of life, educational backgrounds, levels of intellect, socio-economic status and religious denominations. We often found ourselves having more in common with each other than we had in contrast. There were times I was surprised by some of their answers as they were by some of mine. The fact that I knew a great deal about the Klan, and in some cases more than some of them did, afforded me a higher degree of respect in their eyes after their getting over the initial shock of my being Black. I do believe that by introducing them to the person first, sight unseen, over the phone, and allowing them to form their own preconceived notions, prior to facing my ethnic background, did in the end, work to all our advantages. They met and interacted with someone they did not accurately predict and the spontaneity of our encounters has led to many long-lasting friendships.
When people join a group like the Klan, we can talk about their underlying psychology or their political influences, but often it is more instructive to try to figure out what they value. What kind of society do you think these Klansmen, that you have spoken to, desire? What is their ideal place to live in?
Well, as I said in the previous answer, a Klanmember is not cut from a standard cookie cutter. Based upon their own environment, social and educational achievements (or failures), levels of acceptance or tolerance, can determine what their ultimate desires may be in terms of the ideal place in which to live. At the very least some KKK members (White separatists) will tolerate or might even accept co-existence with other races in this country as long as there are separate schools, residential neighborhoods, work places, churches, etc. Some on the extreme end of separatism, have shown me a map of the United States with certain States designated for Blacks, certain others designated for Whites, and others for Hispanics and remaining races and ethnicities.
Just over the line from the extreme KKK separatists, are the KKK extremists (White supremacists). These are ones who tell me that this country is, â€œFor Whites only. All non-Aryans (or â€œmud racesâ€ as they refer to non-Whites) must leave this country or be exterminated in RAHOWA (Racial Holy War). Some supremacists at the extreme end of supremacy will not talk with me.
You are quite an accomplished musician, having performed with a number of “big names” in blues and rock, and a number of rather large venues including the Kennedy Center. What made you desire to go into music, and was your own ethnic background a consideration in choosing a predominantly African-American form of music?
Thank you for the compliment. I actually started out late in life compared to most musicians who took lessons and played as children. Up until about 11th grade, I wanted to be a spy. I was fascinated with James Bond. To this day, I still have my James Bond briefcase that fires plastic bullets and my 007 decoder belt from my childhood!
During my junior year of high school, I thought about people that I most admire. Two names came to mind; one was Elvis Presley and the other was Chuck Berry. What was it about these two gentlemen that prominently stood out in my mind?
It was the fact that they each had made millions upon millions of people all over the world happy with their music. These were people who may never see them in person, let alone meet them. But, they would hear their music and dance and be happy. Who has never heard Elvis Presleyâ€™s Hound Dog or Chuck Berryâ€™s Johnny B. Goode? Some people have been fortunate enough to see Elvis and Chuck perform live, but most have only seen video clips or filmed performances. Most people who admire these two artists, have never met them.
Back in the day, as we know, many concert halls and live music venues did not allow Blacks. If they did, they were segregated with ropes going around the seating sections with signs hanging that read, â€œSeating For White Patrons Onlyâ€ or â€œColored Seating Only.â€ Should you go to see Frank Sinatra, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman or whoever back in the 1940s and you sat in your seating section as designated by the color of your skin or you were subject to arrest if you cross-sat with a member of another race, regardless of whether or not the other person was your close friend. This was law and it was strictly enforced.
Most concert goers abided by this rules. These Jim Crow laws were still in place in the 1950s as well. But midway through this decade, two phenomena happened. The first was the invention of Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll by Black artists like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley and others. It was quickly adopted and popularized by White artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and others.
The second was that for the first time in the history of this country when any of these Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll or Rockabilly artists performed, Black kids and White kids would bounce up out of their seats, knock down the ropes and start dancing and boogying in the aisles together. This had never happened before. Naturally, the powers that be a/k/a the White Establishment, blamed it on the sexual and Satanic rhythms of Black music. City officials all over the country began cracking down on it, banning â€œRockâ€™nâ€™Roll shows from taking place in their towns because of the â€œrace mixingâ€ that would ensue resulting from this Black music. When Black and White kids would start dancing together at these shows that managed to take place, the police would arrive and end the concert. It was called everything from race music, jungle music to nigger bop.
White artists like Elvis Presley, were considered a disgrace to the White race for advocating, promoting and performing this music. On top of that, he was wiggling around and gyrating his lower body â€œlike a nigger.â€ How could, and why would, a White man â€œlower himself to the level with a nigger?â€ Some of the Establishment even went so far as to call this advent in Black music, a Communist plot to disrupt America and corrupt White youth.
White youth it seemed, couldnâ€™t get enough of it and record companies began getting their White artists to â€œcoverâ€ these songs by the original Black artists. Since the most revenue in music came from the pockets of White youth and they were gravitating toward this Black music, something had to be done to avert little White girls from idolizing and screaming over a Black performer. This is why record companies got people like Pat Boone to record songs like Little Richardâ€™s Tutti Fruiti and Fats Dominoâ€™s Blueberry Hill. This was where the term â€œcover songâ€ first originated. It meant a White artist â€œcoveringâ€ a Black artistâ€™s song. While the Establishment realized they couldnâ€™t get away from this bizarre new music, the best thing they could do, was to have their own kind perform it rather than have their kids become enamored with Black purveyors of this despicable noise Black people called music.
But hereâ€™s the irony. The establishment hated Elvis Presley. They kicked him off television for shaking his hips and â€œdancing like a nigger.â€ But within a couple of years when they saw how much money they could make from this same music, the very people who condemned Elvis, now embraced him and claimed the music as their own, appointing him the King of Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll. Yeah, the White man who was called a sellout, a disgrace, a corrupter of White youth and a nigger lover, was now being called a King and the inventor of this music known as Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll. Go figure that one!!! Forget the real inventors who were Black, like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley.
The fact that it was created by Blacks really had nothing to do with my choice of deciding to play that genre created by members of my ethnicity. I liked the style and the power that it has to bring people of all races and walks of life together, be it on a dance floor or at a concert. When I decided to become a musician as a teenager in my junior year of high school, I taught myself to play and had friends of mine who could play, show me different things on the piano and guitar. I purchased books and taught myself to read music. I wanted not to imitate but to emulate what Elvis and Chuck had done, in terms of making many people happy through the power of music. Since they and their contemporaries were my idols, I decided to study not only them, but also whoever they listened to. Where did this Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll come from. Thatâ€™s how I discovered the Blues and Boogie Woogie. I made it my mission to meet Chuck and Elvis and I accomplished that goal. I also met many of their contemporaries and their predecessors to whom they listened, like Pinetop Perkins, Johnnie Johnson, Muddy Waters and other great Blues and Boogie Woogie artists.
I went to Howard University and graduated with my degree in music in 1980. My major was Jazz Performance and my minor was voice. What my college training taught me was how to analyze and write the music I had taught myself to play and sing. The emphasis there was on Jazz and Classical music. Today in addition to Rockâ€™nâ€™Roll, I also play Country, Jazz, Swing, Boogie Woogie, Bluegrass, R&B and some other musical genres as well.
In 1983, I was a new member, not to mention the only Black member, of a Bluegrass/Country band. The places we placed were predominantly patronized by Whites. One of these places was an all-White truck stop lounge in Frederick, Maryland. To be clear, I donâ€™t mean that Blacks were not allowed entrance. They simply chose on their own not to come there and it was a good choice, because they were not welcome. Weâ€™ll here I am in this place for the first time and after the first set the band went on break. I was walking across the dance floor to sit at a table with the bandleader and my bandmates when someone walked up behind me and put their arm around my shoulder. I stopped and turned around to see who was being so familiar with me. I could see all the other bandmembers and I didnâ€™t know anyone else at this place.
It was a White gentleman in his mid to late 40s and he said, â€œI really like your allâ€™s music.â€ I thanked him and shook his hand. He went on to say, â€œI seen this here band before, but I ainâ€™t never seen you. Whereâ€™d you come from?â€ I replied that I had just joined the band a couple of months prior to this gig. â€œYou know, this is the first time I ever seen a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis,â€ he goes on. I was truly naÃ¯ve and taken aback in disbelief at his statement. I asked, â€œWhere do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play?â€ He said Jerry Lee invented that style of playing on his own. I explained that Jerry Lee learned to play that style from the same sources from which I too had learned, Black Blues and Boogie Woogie pianists. Jerry Leeâ€™s first cousins, Mickey Gilley and the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart all used to watch these Black pianists perform at a Black club in Ferriday, Louisiana. This gentleman did not believe me and simply refused to believe that Jerry Lee Lewis could have possibly learned anything from a Black pianist and laughed at my telling him that. Even after I told him that I knew Jerry Lee and he was a good friend of mine and he told me himself where he learned to play, this guy still would not accept it. I donâ€™t believe he even bought that I knew Jerry Lee. But he wanted to buy me a drink.
I donâ€™t drink, but I agreed to go to his table and have a cranberry juice with him. When the waitress returned with our drinks, he paid her and took his beer and cheered my glass proclaiming that this was the first time he had ever sat down and had a drink with a Black man. Again, I was taken aback. It was the first time he had ever heard a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis and now it was the first time he had ever had a drink with a Black man. This gentleman was having quite a night of firsts!
I was 25 at the time and had sat down and had beverages, meals, and conversation with thousands of White people and couldnâ€™t imagine how it was that this guy who had been around at least 20 years longer than me, had never sat down with a Black person before. So I asked him why. He revealed to me that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. At that point, it was my turn to laugh, because I didnâ€™t believe him. Why on Earth would a Klansman put his arm around my shoulder, praise my piano playing and want to buy me a drink? I stopped laughing when he pulled out his Klan card and handed it to me. Again, this demonstrates the power of music to bring unlikely people together in camaraderie. Matt Koehl planted the seed with me and this guy was the first blossom and this experience would later serve as an important catalyst in my writing KLAN-DESTINE RELATIONSHIPS.
As the child of a successful diplomat, you lived in many places around the world and saw children of different ethnic backgrounds interacting pleasantly, before you returned to the United States and were exposed to racist abuse. Do you think the diplomatic community provides a representative sample of humanity?
I think the diplomatic community provides a representative sample of what humanity could be, certainly not what it currently is. I grew up as an American embassy brat. Combining my travels abroad as a child of parents in the U.S. Foreign Service, with my travels as an adult musician performing gigs nationally and internationally, to date, I have been in 51 different countries on 5 continents. I have seen many examples of different cultures getting along in harmony, but Iâ€™ve also seen tribal and religious strife as well.
Some of my elementary and junior high school years were spent overseas where I would attend international schools. All the kids from the various embassies in these countries, attended the international school as well. So consequently, in the 1960s overseas, I was in classes with Nigerian, Japanese, Russian, French, German, Danish, Chinese, Italian and whatever other kinds of kids were there, usually as a result of their parents being with the embassies of their respective countries. We all went to school together. At the same time back home here in the States, my peers were in class with all Whites or all Blacks, or just Blacks and Whites, depending upon whether or not that particular school was integrated or segregated. Additionally, at that time in our history, there was not the large amount of racial and ethnic diversity that we see in our classrooms today.
So, at the end of our tour of duty, we would return home, here to the United States where I would attend school for 9 months to a year or so, until our next assignment on the other side of the world. I was therefore in a very unique position as a child to be able to see opposite sides of the spectrum while at the same age. When I was overseas, sometimes in third world countries, I was living in the future. My classrooms there, represented what wouldnâ€™t come to the United States for another 20 years. The multicultural environment of our American classrooms of today were experienced by me 20 years before it happened here. Overseas, I was literally living in the future of what was to come in my own country. This is the sample of which I am speaking. It worked in the diplomatic community over there and is now common place over here, but it still needs a lot of tweaking.
Do you think a multiracial/multicultural society can function? If so, do you have any examples of any throughout history or in the present time that you’d like to share?
I guess it depends upon the definition of multiracial/multicultural. One definition of these terms is people from a multitude of different or various races and cultures co-existing in the same societal environment. Another definition refers to the physiological and ideological characteristics of someone who is the offspring of mixed race ancestors and cultures. For example, a girl whose mother is Vietnamese and Buddhist and her father is Italian and Catholic, could also be considered to be multiracial/multicultural.
I believe a society containing inhabitants fitting either definition can indeed function as long as there is a uniform and universal respect for humanity in general. There are those in our society who believe in a need to maintain the purity of their own race & culture, and therefore do not endorse cross-pollinating or miscegenation. Some have this belief out of their own feelings of racial superiority, while some others share the belief but do not feel that other races are inferior, but are in fact equal. However they simply wish to preserve their own history. The common fear of both these groups is that their history will become extinct and their society will become uniracial and unicultural. Society is indeed heading in that direction. There was a time when you could look at someone of mixed ethnicity and tell the two backgrounds that produced them. Today, there are many more people with so many different background characteristics, it is hard to tell without asking them.
Personally, I donâ€™t think this is a bad thing and most Americans would be hard pressed to truly find that their DNA and heritage are completely pure of other races and cultures. I think itâ€™s important that people have the choice to cross-bred if they so desire as well as the choice to maintain their â€œpurity.â€
I am neither French nor Bahai, but off the top of my head the country France and the Bahai faith come to mind as examples I might suggest as multiracial/multicultural societies or environments that function quite well. Although, France in recent years is having great struggles with this. While I canâ€™t give you long standing, proven situations without thinking long and hard, and perhaps they donâ€™t currently exist, I do however believe as younger generations come up, older habits and people die out, paving a path for this to be possible. But again, it requires a common unity in the belief and practice of treating all people as human beings, regardless of their station in life and whether or not someone chooses to retain their â€œpurityâ€ or augment the gene pool.
On our tiny little blog, we advance the supposition (wholly stolen from Zionist writer Theodore Herzl) that diversity itself, and not the ethnic groups involved, may be the cause of the racism and racial antagonism we see in multicultural societies. We extend “diversity” to not only ethnic group and race, but also to religion, even philosophy and average intelligence, and cite examples like Belgium (breaking up as we type), Russia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavian area as examples of similar ethnic groups finding diversity not to their liking. In your experience and view, is diversity regardless of ingredients the cause of strife? Or is something deeper going on?
I have had the pleasure of visiting all of those countries you mentioned with the exception of Rwanda. I did however visit many other African countries during my 10 years on that continent while my parents served as U.S. diplomats. Itâ€™s a shame to see the strife that currently permeates those countries. They were not like that during my visits and since then, the diversity in those countries has increased. You have raised an excellent, very interesting, and thought-provoking question, as to if it is due to the increased diversity in those societies. I can see where it gives that appearance. However, it is my opinion that it is not diversity, regardless of ingredients that cause this strife. There is indeed, something deeper going on. I believe that while it is not the diversity in and of itself, it is rather how each diverse group attaches self-importance to their unique ingredients that make them diverse from others. This self-importance comes in the forms of White Pride, Black Power, etc.
To remedy this problem, we need to start by returning to the original definition of the words, â€œprideâ€ and â€œproud.â€ I think one of the problems is that we in this country, and worldwide for that matter, have skewed the definitions of these terms over the years and this has caused great damage within societies, such as religious wars and ethnic cleansing.
I cannot say, â€œI am proud to be Black.â€ A White person cannot say they are proud to be â€œWhite,â€ nor can a Jew say, â€œIâ€™m proud to be Jewish.â€ Let me explain.
It used to be that â€œprideâ€ or the sense of being â€œproud,â€ was something one derived from oneâ€™s own accomplishments. The operative words here are â€œoneâ€™s own accomplishments.â€ I can show pride and say I am proud of my published book, KLAN-DESTINE RELATIONSHIPS. I set forth to write a book on a particular subject. I completed it, a publisher gave me a book deal and it sells. No one did this for me; I accomplished it on my own. I can therefore say, â€œIâ€™m proud of my book.â€ The musician and actor who take home a Grammy or Oscar can be proud of their accomplishments in the entertainment industry. You can and should be proud of this blog youâ€™ve created. This is your accomplishment. A doctor, an Olympic gold medalist, an Eagle Boy Scout, the winner of a dance contest or cake baking competition, can all and rightfully so, proclaim pride in these endeavors to which they put their own efforts into in order to achieve this accomplishments.
I did not accomplish my being Black, you did not accomplish becoming a White man. We had no choice in these matters. Our parents accomplished this for us. The only reason a person is Jewish, according to Jewish law, is because he/she was born to a Jewish mother, regardless of what the father may be, and not through oneâ€™s own accomplishment, unless he converted to Judaism. So, when I hear someone say they are proud to be Black, White Jewish, I have to laugh at their false sense of misplaced pride in taking credit for what they did not accomplish.
Of course I can and will say, â€œI am not ashamed to be Blackâ€ and I believe that Whites and Jews or anyone else, neednâ€™t be ashamed to be whatever they are if they had no control over that accomplishment in the first place. What is most important is not what the person is born, but what he/she accomplishes with the short time he has on this Earth before his demise. It is oneâ€™s accomplishments that garner respect. Respect can come in many different ways. While there are those who hate Martin Luther King, Jr., there are millions worldwide who respect him for his accomplishments in the Civil Rights movement. At the same time, while there are those who abhor Adolf Hitler, there many in the Nazi and neo-Nazi movements that respect his accomplishment of exterminating six million Jews. Iâ€™m referring to those in that movement who donâ€™t believe the Holocaust was a hoax. Regardless of whether the accomplishment is positive or negative, it is an accomplishment nonetheless and for that reason it will garner respect from certain groups of like-minded people.
We should give basic respect to all human beings as a baseline and then determine if they warrant an increase in that respect by judging them on their personal accomplishments or what theyâ€™ve achieved towards the betterment of others in their society. If a White man has a life-threatening car accident and the only thing that can save him is a blood transfusion, does it and should it, really matter that the process by which this is accomplished was invented by a Black man named Dr. Charles Drew? Does it and should it matter to that White man who is waking up in the recovery room, that his successful transfusion operation was performed by a Jew, a Muslim, a male or female? The doctor who may have diverse racial, cultural and/or socio-economic ingredients from the patient can certainly express pride in his/her having saved a life. That patient regardless of his/her disposition in life, should be grateful and respect and judge that doctor his credentials and accomplishment in saving that patientâ€™s life. The patientâ€™s false or self-sense of racial pride or diversity did not play a role usually gets put on the back burner when they realize they are facing death. The more we can return to the original definitions of â€œproudâ€ and â€œprideâ€ and offer basic respect and judge one on their accomplishments or as Martin Luther King, Jr., said, â€œJudge one on the content of oneâ€™s character and not the color of oneâ€™s skin,â€ there will be far less strife in societies with diverse ingredients.
John Baumgardner, the “revolutionary Klansman,” suggested that both African-American and white separatist/nationalist groups desire the same thing, which is ethnic self-rule for all groups, and that what holds that vision back is mostly commercial interests and the disconnected opinions of elites who work comfy desk jobs or in academia, far from the middle-class and working-class neighborhoods where this drama plays out. Has Baumgardner been influential in encouraging you to do what you do?
John Baumgardner is a very interesting gentleman, whom I would like to get to know better. Iâ€™ve never met him in person, but weâ€™ve spoken a few times over the phone back in the 1990s. The late Grand Dragon of Pennsylvania, Roy Frankhouser had given Mr. Baumgardner my number and he phoned me a few times. By the way, I was pallbearer at Mr. Frankhouserâ€™s funeral a couple of years ago, along with some other Klan members and friends.
At the time of my phone conversations with Mr. Baumgardner, he was organizing and participating in marches with the Pan African Congress. I enjoyed my conversations with him and hope one day to meet him and continue our conversation. I agree with the first part of his assertion, that a number of Black and White separatist/national groups stand united in their desire for ethnic self-rule, but I donâ€™t know that their common vision is entirely held back by the elitists in the comfy desk jobs and academia.
Many groups of elitists also desire self-rule and often achieve this by creating situations that pit the middle-class and working-class groups against each other. This naturally diverts attention and focus away from the elitist orchestrators of this â€œdivide and conquer and thereby control,â€ philosophy. Apart from those elitists who may have commercial interests and disjointed or disconnected opinions, there are quite a number of people from all classes who have no interest other than their true passion to see a â€œunitedâ€ United States of America. There is very little uniform or united about our country. While there are some who advocate for a unicultural society there are those who simply advocate for a society in which everyone is treated equally regardless of who is doing the governing and are not governed by people ruling with a bias toward or against any particular group. Would a separate but equal self-ruling society work? Not for long. Inevitably, each self-ruling group will become the elitist and then engage in the divide/conquer/control strategy against the other groups as each group expands over time and then the separatist/nationalist transforms into the supremacist.
It was back in 1985 when I first met Osiris Akkebala, Chief Elder of the Pan-Afrikan International Movement (PAIN). Chief Akkebala hosted a radio show in an all-black community where we had a scheduled demonstration. PAIN follows a Garvian philosophy, and understanding that Marcus Garvey had met with the Klan in the 1920s, Chief Osiris approached me for a private meeting. We hit it off well and have been good friends ever since.
Sometime in 1990 we began holding joint demonstrations–the Klan in their robes and the Africans in their dashikis. Needless to say it sparked quite a backlash. Many klansmen were angry at me for even considering such a thing. In my view it was a match inspired by God. Why should we have a problem with black men who are strict racial separatists and want to establish a homeland on the continent of Africa? I have even publicly endorsed the payment of reparations to blacks but only for the purpose of repatriation back to Africa.
I believe that all people have a right to self-determination, a right to choose their own government, and their own religion. Clearly, blacks in America have not had those opportunities. As Minister Louis Farrakhan said: “If we can’t get along together, then we need to separate.”
I’m a revolutionary white separatist, not a white supremacist. I don’t feel superior to any man because of the color of my skin but I understand that the Aryan people (making up only about eight percent of the world population) must have a separate land uninfluenced by other races or by the criminal government that occupies Washington D.C. – A Revolutionary Klansman: Interview with John Baumgardner
Mr. Baumgardner has created a symbiotic dichotomy out of what historically has been two diametrically opposing groups; the Ku Klux Klan and Black repatriatists. His quest to unify these two groups who historically are at opposite ends of the spectrum but are closer than two peas in a pod ideologically, to achieve their common goals, is quite interesting. Mr. Baumgardnerâ€™s vision can be considered that of a forward thinker only if the spectrum is a straight horizontal line. In this regard, the two groups come together in the middle to agree to go their separate ways with the aid of each other. The further they move away from each other, the farther apart they become. However, if the spectrum is arced ever so slightly, as each end continues to move, they eventually connect, thus forming a circle. So, it can be said in this situation, Mr. Baumgardnerâ€™s thinking would be backwards. The two groups would start at a common point in the center of the spectrum arc, but the further they move away from each other, the closer they get to each other at the bottom of the arc when the circle connects. Thus the definition of having come or having gone full circle.
Mr. Baumgardner has proven that these groups can work together to separate. His influence upon me, would be that if they can work together to separate, then that gives me impetus and encouragement to see if they can work together to unite as well.
What defines a civilization, and holds it together? For example, is it a political idea (democracy), an economic idea (capitalism), a religion (Buddhism), a culture (Judaism), an ethnic group (German) or a racial group (Caucasian), or is it some combination or variation of all of the above?
The definition of a civilization to me, is a well-oiled machine or engine made up of humanity in which all gears, wheels, pistons, valves and other working parts are actually human beings, all working together doing their roles to keep the whole thing running. What holds it together is the realization by these human beings that each one them, is equally important to, and dependant upon, all the other ones to keep the motor running sufficiently. It takes the coming together of all the ingredients you mentioned, political ideas, cultures, ethnicities, races and economic ideas coming together to have it run efficiently. When all of this is fully realized by society, the civilization rises to the level of running proficiently.
It bothers me a great deal, as an American, that we call ourselves the greatest country on Earth. Certainly by technological standards, weâ€™ve surpassed all over countries around the globe. We have the ability to put a man on the moon. While Neil Armstrong was up there walking around, we could talk to him live, all the way from Earth to the moon via satellite radio phone. We in the U.S. can talk instantly to anyone in anywhere in this country, China, Africa, Europe or Australia via email or on our cell phones. How is it that we Americans can communicate all over the world, cyberspace and the universe, but canâ€™t talk to the person who lives right next door to our home because he or she is of a different race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality? It seems to me that before we can consider ourselves to be the greatest nation on the face of this Earth, our ideology needs to catch up with our technology.
Daryl, we appreciate your being with us today. These were not the easy questions, and you handled them admirably. I think all of us can learn a lot from this interview.
Tags: daryl davis, diversity, interview, multiculturalism, nationalism, race, racism